When the mood for coffee strikes you, nothing beats the taste and convenience of your making own homemade espresso drink. These are great for getting your day started or relaxing with an espresso shot after dinner. If you are an espresso lover, an espresso machine is a must have appliance. However determining which machine is best for you is difficult because these machines can get a little complicated, so we’ll try to break down the four most important factors for you. Here are the main things to consider when buying an espresso machine:
• Types of espresso machines
• Amount of use
• Positive feedback from customers
Type of Espresso Machine
The first and foremost factor for you to determine is what kind of espresso machine you would like to have. There are essentially four types of espresso makers:
• Super automatic
If you like to have more control and enjoy the “art” of the espresso making process, then you will want to go more towards manual, although these machines are far from easy to operate. If you are all about convenience, automatic (or even super automatic if you can splurge) would be your best bet. If you enjoy some convenience but would want to have some control over the final product, then a semiautomatic machine would be more ideal for you. Let’s look at each in more detail to give you a better understanding of what each type entails.
Manual espresso machines, also known as lever espresso machines, are not for the faint of heart. If you are a technophobe, don’t think that these manual machines are easier to operate than the auto ones. If done incorrectly, and there are quite a few steps in the manual process that could go wrong, you’ll end up with a ruined coffee beverage. However, if done expertly, you can savor perhaps the best espresso drinks you’ll ever have, along with the satisfaction of producing it yourself. If you are an espresso purist, then these may be the types of machines for you.
For those who are inexperienced with making espresso drinks, a manual machine will take a lot of practice to get used to. You’ll have to learn how long you want the preinfusion stage to occur, how much water to let flow over the bed of coffee grinds, and when the optimal time is to pull the shot. If you think you’ll love the satisfaction of having the control and expertise to pull a great espresso shot, then perhaps you should consider a manual espresso maker.
The semiautomatic espresso maker is the most popular kind on the market today. It features an automatic pump, automated temperature controls and activation switches for engaging and disengaging the pump. This in essence is what makes these machines semiautomatic – you control when the pump is engaged or disengaged by pushing the button.
This gives you complete control over the entire water flow during the espresso-making cycle. You control when the shot starts and ends, so if the shot is pouring slowly, you can continue it until it has reached your satisfaction. At the beginning you will have to prepare the shot by manually loading the filter basket with properly ground espresso coffee and then tamp it as well.
The nice thing about some automatic espresso machines is they also include semi automatic controls as a backup, so you can have the best of both worlds. Automatic machines include all the automated features of a semi automated machine, but the shot is controlled as well by its pre-programmed setting. So your drink will basically start and stop on its own with no input from you, unless you engage the semi auto setting if your machine has one.
Automatic machines tend to fit in better in commercial establishments where the barista is handing many drinks at once. For home, the extra expense is probably not worth it.
This is the true set and forget espresso delivery system, and is mostly for lazy or super busy people. In addition to everything else that automatic machines handle, the super auto type will take care of the grinding, tamping and brewing processes, as well as eject the grounds. This is truly a hands off espresso-making solution. These espresso makers are the most expensive, ranging from $500 to $3000.
The primary thing that most people consider when buying an espresso machine is the price. Unless you have the budget it can be difficult to splurge for a machine that has a lot of features and automation you want. However for a machine that lasts a long time, the cost for an expensive model will dwindle over the long term.
The cheapest espresso machines will cost around $25, while the most expensive ones run close to $3,000. Then you can find machines at all prices in between. A better quality machine will probably last longer, and you’ll probably be able to produce better quality espresso drinks from a machine that costs more as well. But if you do your due diligence and follow the tips in this article, you’ll be able to find a machine that is perfect for you within your price range.
The type of espresso machine you prefer will also affect the price. To your surprise, manual machines are not necessarily the cheapest because their design is more complicated. Semiautomatic machines tend to be easiest on the budget, and if you are an espresso-making newbie this may be your best bet.
Amount of Use
Will you be using your new machine daily, or mostly for special occasions when you entertain guests? The more you use it, the better quality you will need or you will find yourself buying a replacement soon down the road.
If you want a machine that will last you the rest of your life, an expensive espresso maker that costs a thousand dollar will not be a bad investment when you consider the amount of your savings you accrue over multiple years. You should also go with a well-constructed machine that uses mostly metal materials instead of plastics for greater durability.
You should look online for existing customer feedback on the models and brands you are considering (check out our espresso machine reviews page). Your brand should offer at least a one year warranty to cover defects. Feedback and ratings are even more important if you are going with a high end model. If you are forking out a lot of dough, you don’t want to be stuck with something unproven.
When looking at feedback, pay more attention to the ones that have a lot of detail versus the ones that just contain general comments with hardly any detail. The more detailed the reviews are, the more accurate they tend to be.
So these are the main factors to deal with on what you should look for when buying an espresso machine. The first decision you will have to make is what type of espresso maker you would like to own, and then apply the other factors once that is determined. Take your time, do your due diligence and you’ll find that perfect espresso maker that will pour delicious espresso drinks for years to come.